The official site of author Ruth McLeod-Kearns

Ruth McLeod-Kearns is an advocate for opiate/heroin overdose, author, creator of the I'll Bring the Coffee blog series and a contributing writer for Things Women Want Freedom of Expression magazines.

Here, you can connect with the author, follow her social media accounts and download the thought-provoking novelettes. As always, she'll bring the coffee.

What I Would Say

I was slow as mud entering the white building.  Regal in silence and pain.  White posts giving the appearance of wealth.  But all inside is really death.  The people alive are not there to “celebrate” a life, but to mourn the passing of one.  On that day, I was there to see what my brother looked like in his eternal slumber.  It was ugly and cold.

I hadn’t seen or spoke to him in 4 years.  Our last conversation was lucid and cruel.  It made it worse that it was all on purpose, so many years ago.  I had no idea that with the tears in his eyes, it would be the last that I saw him.  This is  a memory that roles over and over in my head, in my heart making me ugly in my own eyes.  Vicious with a sharp tongue that brought blood just as surely as if I used a weapon.  I did actually, I used words that I knew would sting, would stain his heart.  I aimed for hate, and I hit it with deadly accuracy.  That is what I thought of as I stood over the coffin.

There was organ music playing hymns that were supposed to bring solace.  I didn’t feel it, or hear the message.  I was as dead as he was.  There was that part of me that would never be awakened again.  I never again would have the chance to say “I am sorry brother.”  I didn’t mean those things I said.  I was just so hurt and angry.  Please dear one, I stand here begging a stiff, cold shadow of a life forever gone for forgiveness.  It would never come to me like that.  Those are gifts that are earned, and I deserved nothing. 

Although he was hurled into the ground in a tiny plane, I was amazed at how together he seemed.  I would touch him.  He was as hard as ice, and as cold.  He was a winter day, a blizzard inside my heart.  I had done so wrong by him, when I should have held him, thanking him for attempting to arrive on time for our sister’s funeral.  It did mean something that he traveled from so far away, but at that time, it meant nothing to me.  So therefore, he meant nothing.  What a terminal error on my part.

It seemed like a second but it had been many hours that I had been there.  I looked up, and my mom stood by me.  I was lying still on the pew, kleenex wrapped like a baseball in my hand.  Wet from snot and grief.  She signaled with her head to move over.  I did so and sat up.  It was almost getting toward dark, the last moments of sun filtered through the stain glass window casting shades of color over his body.  He was swimming in rainbows.  There wasn’t a prize though, and he had found the end of it.  Directly in a casket in the white building with pillars.

We didn’t speak, there was nothing for either of us to say.  We had exhausted every chance we had to make things right.  We had run out of time.  So had he.  She rustled my hair like she would when I was a mere child.  Her smile was void of happiness, but it was there for me, not her.  I attempted a grin in return, but the effort was weak and futile.  She finally stood, looked one last time at the man who she met when he was 5 years old.  She had done her best at times, and didn’t even try other times.  They both had been lost in their world of haunted memories and demons.  She slowly left.  The weight of my pain brought me back to laying down.

“Miss, we are closing.  You almost ready?”  The question was so everyday sounding.  So empty of meaning, like he was asking if I needed anything from the store.  That was how little it would be in my memories of that day.

The arc of colors had left.  The room was loud with death.  Slowly, without righteousness, I stood and walked over to him.  I didn’t want to, because I knew what it would feel like.  But I leaned over and kissed him soft as a baby on his forehead.  “I’m sorry.  Thank you for coming that day.  I was so wrong.  I didn’t mean what I said, but I mean this.  I love you.  I always have, I always will, and I won’t make such a fatal mistake again.  Safe travels brother.  See you again one day.  I do love you.”

I turned, and slowly walked to my car.  That was the very last time I would ever see him.  It wasn’t a visit with laughter and sharing  funny memories.  It was a farewell that never ends.  It was death.  Mine mythically, his was physical.  Both were eternally sad.  Both left us hard and cold.  It hasn’t changed.  His last day on this earth, his first in heaven.  Neither made me feel better.  Because I had hurt him, I lost a chance to do right.  He deserves where he is, and I deserve to not be.  I earned this hell, over words I can never take back.  What a dreadful shame!

*Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Understanding the Epidemic: Drug overdose deaths continued to increase in 2015", 12/16/16